Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Weekly AM2 Vol. 7: Interview with Shenmue Planning Director, Eigo Kasahara | 25th Jan 2000

In this series we translate Shenmue content from Weekly AM2, the official online magazine published by Sega's AM2 development team back in the day. News and information about the Shenmue series could be found regularly within these pages from the end of 1999 through to 2001 with the release of Shenmue II.

Vol. 7 contains an interview with Shenmue Planning Director, Eigo Kasahara (who also returned to manage the localization for Shenmue I & II many years later). There is also an announcement of the prizes for the Network Ranking competition, as well as another Shenmue digital wallpaper.



Vol.6: 2000.1.25

Have you cleared Shenmue? I'm Takuan.

Are you all participating in the Network Rankings? The Shenmue Passport makes Shenmue even more fun!

This week's contents:
  • Notice of Yu Suzuki's talk
  • Interview with Shenmue's Planning Director, Eigo Kasahara
  • Announcement of Network Rankings Prizes
  • Shenmue Wallpaper Download Service, Round 2

Yu Suzuki to Talk About Everything at the eAT '00 KANAZWA AWARD Event!

The eAT '00 KANAZAWA AWARD, a festival for electronic artists, will be held in Kanazawa City, Ishikawa Prefecture, from February 24th (Thu) to 26th (Sat), 2000.

eAT (=Electric Art Talent) Kanazawa is a media art and creator festival that has been held yearly since 1997.

The event will be held under the theme of "Movie Wars... This Will Transform Movies!". Invited guests include film directors Sogo Ishii, Mamoru Oshii, Shinya Tsukamoto, and actor Tadanobu Asano, and there will be contests, forums, seminars, night classes, and an exhibition of works.

And, not only that, Yu Suzuki will also give a talk!

The title of his talk is "All About Shenmue Now". Yu-san himself will talk about Shenmue in this not-to-be-missed event.

You might even get to hear some secret development anecdotes!

All About Shenmue Now
Date: Friday, February 25, 10:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Place: Kanazawa Civic Art Village
Admission: 4,000 yen for adults, 2,000 yen for students
For more information, see here.

Interview with Shenmue Planning Director, Eigo Kasahara

This time we spoke with Mr. Eigo Kasahara, Planning Director of "Shenmue Chapter 1: Yokosuka".

Eigo Kasahara
  • Worked at AM2 on "Shenmue ~ Chapter One: Yokosuka"
  • The development duration was a remarkable 3 years 10 months!
  • In charge of characters and locations, as well as the Shenmue Passport.

Q: What exactly is the job of a planning director?

Eigo Kasahara: My job is to think about the maps, locations, mini-games and people's daily life cycles within Shenmue. For example, to decide on the name of a single character, we brainstorm about 100 names. Then, after many meetings, we decide on a name that best fits the character's personality and background.

But that was nothing compared to deciding the title.

We came up with more than 2,000 names. We had names from Latin, Greek, Spanish, French, English, and so many other ideas. "Shenmue" was chosen out of all of them. So Shenmue is an exceptional name that won from a very high number of contenders.

Q: Please tell us which are your favorite events or characters?

Eigo Kasahara: For events, I like the mini-games. I like them all, but especially the forklift race.

As for characters, I like Tony and Smith. That's because they are always meddling with Ryo, and Ryo ends up getting the better of them. The expressions on their faces when he's throttling them are really really well done [laughs]. Keep an eye out for it!

Tony looks muscular and strong, but he's weak in reality... and he gets beaten [laughs]. His persistence is one of the things I like about him.

Tony and Smith

Q: What were some of the fun or difficult parts of creating Shenmue?

Eigo Kasahara: We would propose an idea, then get the OK for it from Yu Suzuki, and the programmers and designers would create it. When it actually took shape and was brought to completion we felt immensely happy. It's a great feeling when your idea is adopted and everyone gets to see it. It's fun to work in such a rewarding job.

The hardest part was the meetings. We would have an offsite camp every week, or every other week, held at a recreation facility at Lake Yamanaka [a resort area near Mt Fuji] or Zushi [a seaside location south of Tokyo]. Once we got there, it was continuous meetings for 24 hours a day. We'd usually stay up all night on the day before going there to prepare materials, so we ended up in meetings for two whole days without any sleep.

Entrance to Sega's recreation facility at Lake Yamanaka

On top of that, we had to make all kinds of important decisions at the camp meetings.

That was really tough.

Q: Please tell us about the Shenmue Passport.

Eigo Kasahara: The two sections I'd particularly like people to check in the Passport are Profiles and Places. Of course, the same goes for the All Moves Scroll!

Shenmue Passport: the "Shenmue World" menu screen

Profiles tells you all sorts of things about the people who appear in Shenmue. There is a lot of information that you can't find in the main story.

If you play Shenmue with this information in mind, I am sure that you will be able to understand the deeper aspects of Shenmue and enjoy it twice as much. 
Another section is Network Ranking.

I've been keeping a watch on the Network Rankings, and I see more and more people registering every day. When I see everyone competing for the top positions, I am truly glad that we created it.

Q: What are your thoughts now that Shenmue has been released?

Eigo Kasahara: I feel something like, "It's finally out!"

I'm thinking about how we can incorporate the feedback from everyone in the next game. I read everyone's opinions on the Shenmue BBS [online Bulletin Board Service forums] and other places.

The challenge will be how well we can implement these and evolve Shenmue into something even better.

So, I'm very happy to hear everyone's opinions. Please continue to submit your various feedback.

Q: The first game takes place in Japan, but how about in the next game?

Eigo Kasahara: As was partially disclosed at the Shenmue Premiere, it seems that Ryo will make his way to Hong Kong and then on to mainland China. Please look forward to it!

Q: Finally, do you have a message for the players?

Eigo Kasahara: I think Shenmue needs more than one completion of the game to fully experience the fun it has to offer, so I hope you'll enjoy it by playing multiple times, and you'll make a lot of new discoveries.

The Shenmue Passport really brings out the fun of Shenmue, so be sure to use it!

Network Rankings: Announcement of Prizes

The prize for the Network Ranking competition has been selected!

Timex Shenmue Original Wristwatch (Not Sold in Stores)

This valuable wristwatch, imprinted with the Shenmue logo and Yu-san's signature, will be given away to the first place winner of each game.

It is not available in stores, so don't miss this chance!

Qualifying Game Rankings
  • Space Harrier
  • Hang On
  • Darts 7
  • Excite QTE2
  • QTE Title
  • Slot Machine
  • 70-Man Battle
  • Forklift Racing
  • Shenmue Triathlon
If there are multiple players in first place with the same time or the same score, the winner will be determined by drawing lots. Participate through the Shenmue Passport.

Monday, January 31, 6:30 p.m.
You can connect as many times as you like until this time!

<Announcement of Results>
Tuesday, February 1
Weekly AM2, & the "Topics" section within Urgent Messages on the Shenmue Passport

By the way, the watch Ryo wears in the game is also the same brand as these prizes: Timex.

Timex worn by Ryo

This watch can be purchased for 14,800 yen (+ tax) at participating stores. I definitely want to get one!

Shenmue Original Wallpaper Download Service (Round 2)

This week's wallpaper is of Ryo and Shenhua. You can feel Ryo's strength and Shenhua's gentleness.

(Please note this service is only available on PCs, not on Dreamcast or i-mode).

That's all for now from Software R&D Department No. 2, brought to you by Takuan. (I'm onto Disc 3 of Shenmue at last).

Source: (archived)

Become a Patron!

No comments:

Post a Comment